gerontius newsletter - September 2014

Dear Gerontius subscriber,

Welcome to the September/October 2014 issue of our newsletter. This time, we are looking at how choirs celebrate anniversaries. Many of you are staging concerts to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, and it's interesting to see the different formats and wide range of repertoire that have been chosen. Certainly it seems that WWI has overshadowed composer anniversaries in 2014, after the centenary of Benjamin Britten's birth last year. Incidentally, ChoralWiki has a very useful list of composer births and deaths, going back 700 years! See

Choirs also celebrate their own anniversaries, sometimes by commissioning a new piece to mark the occasion - which brings me neatly to the subject of our next newsletter. In November/December we will look at "Performing New Music" - how choirs go about commissioning, programming and performing new choral pieces. Please let us know your experiences - everything from how you raised the money, how you chose a composer, how you got to grips with a piece that nobody knew, and how you got those vital bums on seats! As always, we'd love to publish experiences and tips from as many of you as possible. Please email or as soon as possible if you'd like to contribute.

We hope you will find the newsletter interesting and useful. Do feel free to forward it on to friends and others in your choir, or just send them the link to the newsletter on-line:

With best wishes,

Tim and Denise Ault

Newsletter contents
1. Rayburn Tours – Belgium
2. Reading Phoenix Choir
3. Relaxsing – Tuscany 2015
4. Sospiri Choir
5. Yellow Fish Recording
6. Wigton Choral Society
7. Stainer & Bell – Choral Now
8. Risca Male Choir
9. Making Music
10. Chandos Choir
11. Capricorn Singers
12. Duvant Male Choir
13. Site Sponsors
14. Feedback/unsubscribe

Rayburn Tours – Belgium

Rayburn Tours logo
Royal Tunbridge Wells Orpheus Male Voice Choir

Be part of history during the WWI Centenary

Help your choir be part of history, with a visit to Belgium during this very special time. 2014 sees the country come together at the start of a four year programme to commemorate the WWI Centenary and the 100 years that have passed since men fought and lost their lives in the First World War.

Travelling during this time will present some unforgettable performance opportunities, including at the moving Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate, Ypres. At 8pm every evening, the Last Post bugle call is sounded, followed by a minute's silence. Choirs can then perform and lay a wreath as part of the service. Afterwards, the words of the Exhortation, taken from the poem 'For the Fallen' will be spoken, marking the end of the ceremony.

"The ceremony was extremely poignant, especially for those who had the names of ancestors listed on the walls. The silence of the 1000+ crowd during the performance was highly atmospheric."
– Douglas Coombes, on performing at the Menin Gate.

Your choir can also sing informally at Tyne Cot Cemetery, the world's largest Commonwealth war cemetery, as well as at St George's Memorial Church in Ypres, built to commemorate over 500,000 British and Commonwealth troops.

In terms of time spent at leisure, choirs can learn more about the region's historic significance; from visiting the interactive 'In Flanders Fields' museum, to the thought-provoking battlefields of the Ypres Salient.

Visit our website or call 01332 347 828 for more information.

Reading Phoenix Choir

Reading Phoenix Choir logo
Reading Phoenix Choir close up
Reading Phoenix Full Choir

Reading Phoenix Choir is a mixed voice group that, over the last 45 years, has built a reputation for delivering high quality performances in and around Berkshire. Performing approximately once every four weeks, the choir is one of the most active amateur choirs in the country singing music from all genres.

The choir often performs concerts recognising anniversaries and enjoys the challenge of building a concert around a theme. This year, being the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the choir will perform two remembrance concerts; one including music written before 1914 interspersed with poetry readings by members of the choir; the other, music that we feel epitomises remembrance.

The group's extensive and varied repertoire gives flexibility in what music is included in anniversary concerts as well as when it is performed and where it takes place. This means performances can be tailored to meet a variety of needs and recognise a range of anniversaries that may or may not have an obvious musical link. Encouraged and supported by Musical Director, David Crown, the choir embraces new experiences and always fully commits to interpreting anniversaries- whatever the subject matter.

Anniversary concerts have also helped the choir to build relationships with local charities and as a result significant funds have been raised in support of those organisations. This is securing the choir's place in the community, providing opportunities to broaden audiences and fulfilling the choir's sense of social responsibility.

To find out more about the choir visit

RelaxSing Tuscany

RelaxSing logo
Relaxsing Rhine Concert
Relaxsing Castelvecchi

"harmonising relaxation with song"

5 - 12 September 2015
Castelvecchi, near Radda in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy

Join us in Italy again next Summer for another RelaxSing all-inclusive week of choral singing, relaxation, excursions and more in glorious surroundings. The beautiful Castellvecchi estate and winery is wonderfully RelaxSing. Consisting of a restored Tuscan village, the comfortable accommodations and restaurant are ideally located on a hill top affording great views of the famous Chianti region between Florence and Siena. Surrounded by extensive gardens with a wonderful pool, your peace and serenity are assured.

Sing an exciting repertoire of modern choral music each day under the direction of our talented Musical Director. Richard Harker from London is a full time Choral Conductor who focusses on making each and every session informative and fun. So whether you have many year's experience singing in choirs or whether you simply just love to sing, you will love being a RelaxSinger.

Complete your week with our included activities such as wine tastings and excursions. So leave your wallet and your cares behind you, and experience the joy and exhilaration of meeting new friends on this very special RelaxSing week.

All-inclusive price: €1560 based on Twin/Double Share (subject to exchange rates, excludes flights). A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement. Book and pay your deposit of €275 by 13 March 2015 to secure your place. See our website for all the details.
+61 481 31 4017

Sospiri Choir


Sospiri is an amateur chamber choir based in Oxford. It was formed in 2006 by the composer John Duggan and the singer Christopher Watson, who share a passion both for Gregorian Chant and the commissioning and performing of new music.

The project A Multitude of Voices was conceived in 2012. John had written 6 settings of the poetry of Owen, Sassoon, Rosenberg and Gurney but when he and Christopher looked for more unaccompanied choral settings of the War Poets they realised that there were very few, so they decided to commission some. The pieces are now written and recorded, and the CD will be released at the end of October 2014, with a launch concert in St John the Evangelist, Iffley Road, Oxford, on Sunday November 9th. The composers who have written for this project are: John Duggan, Francis Pott, Alexander L'Estrange, Cecilia McDowall, Gabriel Jackson, David Bednall, Frank Ferko, Colin Mawby , Matthew Martin and Richard Allain. All the pieces are unaccompanied, two of them (Allain and McDowall) include a soprano solo and it is a very varied collection, both in terms of the style and difficulty of the pieces. The majority of the poets are British, but Jackson and Duggan have chosen German poets (Trakl and Stramm), Mawby two Irish poets and Ferko a French writer (Apollinaire). The CD will be released on Convivium Records, and details of the publishers of the various pieces will be included in the CD booklet.

For more information please see

Yellow Fish Recording

Yellow Fish mobile
Yellow Fish console screens

The Yellow Fish Mobile is currently offering the most cost effective way to produce live albums and DVDs in one of the most advanced mobiles in Europe.

It's now possible to produce an album for a fraction of the cost of a recording studio by recording in your own rehearsal or performance space. Our highly skilled and experienced team can come to you with our mobile control room to produce professional recordings which can be used to increase revenue for your choir.

We have both Audio and DVD Packages available.

Our Previous Clients include, Sony Music, Virgin, Universal Music and many more.

Why not give Ross or Rob a call on 01273 900862 for more information or visit for more information.

Wigton Choral Society

Wigton Choir

Wigton Choral Society in Cumbria has about 45 mixed voices and a repertoire which includes both religious and secular music from the 15th to the 21st centuries. We give two major concerts a year, in December and June, usually at St Mary's Church, Wigton.

For our 2014 Christmas concert we plan to perform a piece for choir and instruments called The Christmas Truce, composed by Judith Bingham. It evokes musically the famous truce between English and German troops along large parts of the Western Front during the 1914 Christmas period. We will also perform other songs and carols associated with the truce, some with audience participation. There will also be readings, for instance from soldiers' letters. This should be a really special and moving way for people in the Wigton area to remember the 'war to end all wars' as the anniversary year of the outbreak of hostilities draws to a close.

We have also approached the music department of the local secondary school, Nelson Thomlinson, about the idea of a carol writing competition on the theme of the truce, and we hope to perform the winning entry in the concert. We have the interest and help of the curator of the Border Regiment museum in Carlisle (the 2nd Batt. of the Border Regiment took part in the truce only days after making a bloody and fruitless attack on 18th December).

The concert will be held in St Mary's Church, Wigton on Saturday 13th December 2014.

For more information, please see our website:

Stainer & Bell – Choral Now

Stainer & Bell logo
Stainer & Bell special offer

Introducing Stainer & Bell's new digital choral series

An exciting catalogue of sixteen choral works for a cappella or accompanied choir – all available to view online in their entirety – Choral Now is a new digital series from Stainer & Bell. There are three titles from established figures Ronald Corp, Philip Moore and Rhian Samuel, plus a further thirteen from Richard Bullen, Peter Foggitt, Alex Hall, Edmund Jolliffe, Richard Peirson and Benjamin Woodgates – young composers with impressive reputations and something original to say. This growing collection will embrace a rich diversity of styles, moods and functions, appealing to all serious singers and directors as an indispensable resource for choral music.

Each £17.50 purchase enables you to print up to 35 licensed copies (simply order multiple licences for larger choirs). Single inspection copies are available for immediate download at £2.00 each. Supplied as PDF files, the pieces are available to view and purchase through the secure Stainer & Bell online shop at, which gives full details of each title together with composer profiles.

* Offer valid for multi-copy licences or single copies. Cheapest item free. Offer closes 15 November 2014.

Risca Male Choir

Risca Male Choir

At Risca Male Choir, we frequently celebrate special dates and events. Last year for instance we included music by Verdi, Wagner and Britten in our Annual Concert in October, celebrating the births of those composers.

This year, the Annual Concert on October 11 will include a WWI commemoration set in the shape of a commissioned piece from local composer Geraint Davies. This is a setting of the famous poem In Flanders Fields, which Geraint has scored for piano and flute as accompaniment to the men's voices. Also included is Mike Sammes' piece For the Fallen, a simple but very moving setting of another famous WWI poem.

We will also be celebrating the 100 years of the birth of Dylan Thomas with a setting of his famous poem Fern Hill for men's voices and piano by Welsh composer Richard Roderick Jones. This is a very demanding piece full of striking harmonies and original and effective scoring for both the voices and piano. Contrasting with this will be a piece that many male choirs have in their repertoire, the Sunset Poem from Under Milk Wood, Dylan Thomas's words set to a simple chant by Troyte.

For more information, please see our website:

Making Music

Making Music
Men of the 8th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment, during the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917. Credit: © IWM (Q 2978)

Just over 100 years since the first guns of World War One were fired, the centenary is clearly very significant to Making Music members, and we were inundated with responses when we emailed our membership asking for details of commemorative concerts. We wanted to give Gerontius readers a snapshot of the varied and poignant concerts being held by our members in honour of the 17 million soldiers who were killed in the conflict.

In April, South Chiltern Choral Society teamed up with three local choirs to perform Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man as part of Reading's WW1 commemorations. Urmston Choral Society is also including Jenkins' mass in its 'Sing for Heroes' concert on 18 September in Salford, with proceeds divided between military charity Help for Heroes and a local care home for former service personnel.

In July, Dorset's La Nova Singers went back in time to perform classical choral music by composers who were active at the time of the war, including Holst and Debussy. The concert was given in period costume, and a donation from ticket sales went to Help for Heroes. Aliquando Choir has commissioned a new piece of music from British composer Patrick Hawes, to be premiered on 8 November in Henley-on-Thames in aid of the Royal British Legion poppy appeal.

If your choir would like to join Making Music's vibrant, dynamic and diverse membership, visit our website at, or give our Membership Services Team a ring on 020 7422 8280.

Chandos Choir

Chandos Eternal Light poster
Chandos Choir photo

The Chandos Choir is a small, mixed voice choir based in Coulsdon, South London. We are commemorating the centenary of WW1 this year with a concert featuring the superb new Requiem, Eternal Light by Howard Goodall.

This beautiful piece looks at providing solace for the mourner rather than judgment; Goodall's 'Dies Irae' is not Verdi's high drama, but the thoughtful 'In Flanders Field the Poppies Blow'. His 'Lead Kindly Light' within the piece, is also particularly beautiful. In the six short years since it was first performed, Eternal Light has gained more and more positive notice - as you might expect from the man who brought us beautiful melodies such as 'The Lord is My Shepherd' used in the BBC's Vicar of Dibley, and his Love Divine', as well as scores and theme tunes for stage, film and TV (QI, Blackadder, Red Dwarf and more..).

Our concert on Saturday 11 October will feature 3 soloists with piano, organ and harp, for a small intimate performance. The requiem will be followed by a variety of songs the WW1 soldiers would have known and sung - some sentimental, some hollowly cheerful, some bitter parodies. Soldiers reused hymn tunes to comment on their experiences (all lyrics will be clean and suitable for all ages!). We have also arranged a collection at the end of the concert for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.

Please see our website at for more information.

Capricorn Singers

Capricorn Singers 30th concert
Capricorn Singers

The Capricorn Singers are an SSA female voice choir based in Thornton-Cleveleys in Lancashire and are directed by Joe Martin and accompanied by Ian Whalley. We perform a variety of genres ranging from classical through to popular music with a large number of songs from the shows thrown in for good measure.

So, why "The Capricorn Singers"? That's because we were established in the January of 1984 falling under the Capricorn sign of the Zodiac; therefore 2014 is the 30th year of The Capricorn Singers. We are proud to have reached such a milestone in our history and can boast that we still have a member from those early days when the original group of ladies rehearsed at the home of our founding Musical Director, Ray Buckley.

To celebrate our anniversary, during 2014 we have taken part for the first time in the Huddersfield Mrs Sunderland Festival, held an informal "get to know us" concert, participated in the Lytham St Annes Festival of Performing Arts for the fourth time and culminated our Spring and Summer performances with our special 30th Anniversary Summer Concert at Blackpool Sixth Form College; which incidentally was the venue where we recorded both our CDs (Flying Free: 2007 and Winter Wonderland: 2011).

In July we gathered all our existing members and invited all previous members for a party to celebrate our 30 years. With plenty of entertainment, it was a lovely opportunity to share tales of the choir's history, look in awe at the stagewear from over the years (did we really wear that!) and have a genuinely good time.

Dunvant Male Choir (Swansea)

Duvant Male Choir
Willard White

The Duvant Male Choir, based in Swansea, is an eminent international (but still local) choir. Every year, we stage a Patrons Concert. Our 350 Patrons, from home and abroad, descend on the city of Swansea and its finest venue, the recently refurbished Brangwyn Hall.

For this year's 35th Annual Patrons concert on 27th September, the choir was delighted to welcome as their main guest artist, for the third such concert, the eminent international Bass Baritone Sir Willard White. His physique and voice contrasted with the second guest artiste, after her stunning stand-in performance at last year's concert, the coloratura soprano Mary-Jean O'Doherty. They were supported on the piano by Caradog Williams, and all knitted together by the stage and radio personality, Beverley Humphreys.

The choir then has "Home and Away" concerts at Loughor Town Hall, The Royal Albert Hall, St Hilary's Church, Killay, and St. Laurence Church, Winslow before returning for its Annual Christmas Concert at St. Mary's Church, Swansea on Saturday 20th December, a lovely way to start the festive season and to end the concert year. More information can be found on our website.

Site Sponsors

Many thanks to the following:


Chameleon Arts Orchestras and soloists

Rayburn Tours

Chameleon Wedding Music

Alberon - web design

Note Perfect


We always welcome feedback about the site.

Please feel free to send this newsletter on to other members of your choir and to friends.

If you are not receiving your own copy of this newsletter and would like to in future, please visit this page. On the right hand side you can subscribe to the Gerontius Newsletter.

If you would prefer not to receive future newsletters, please reply to this message with subject "no news". You can also opt not to receive the newsletter by changing the option in your choir details screen on the site.

Tim and Denise Ault

Gerontius website